Brandon Wu did something Tuesday that no amateur had done in more than 50 years.
The 22-year-old Stanford grad made it through Final Qualifying for The Open to become the first amateur to qualify for the U.S. Open and The Open in the same summer (without the need of an exemption) since Ireland’s Joe Carr in 1967.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment, so I’m soaking it all in,” Wu told GolfChannel.com after shooting 64-67 to win medalist honors at Fairmont St. Andrews by three shots. “It’s been so fun to compete at the highest level. I think it also speaks to the growth of the amateur game; if I didn’t do it this year, I’m sure someone was bound to do it within the next few years.”
Wu is coming off a senior season in which he was a second-team All-American and went 3-0 in match play to help the Cardinal to the NCAA team title. He got through the U.S. Open sectional in Columbus, Ohio, before representing the U.S. at the Arnold Palmer Cup. He then headed to Pebble Beach, where he made the cut and tied for 35th. He even received his Stanford diploma behind Pebble's 18th green after the final round.
“An insane summer, for sure,” Wu said. “You map it all out in your head, but obviously it’s tough getting through these qualifiers, and probably even tougher to win that team title. I know I can compete at the highest level, so it is nice to be able to showcase it a little on the biggest stages this summer. I’m just trying to enjoy the journey.”
Wu’s journey continues as he flew back to the U.S. on July 4. He will attend the U.S. Amateur preview event at Pinehurst next week before heading back to the U.K. He plans on playing Muirfield, North Berwick and Royal County Down before settling in at Royal Portrush by Monday morning.
With his pro plans gladly on hold, Wu is also primed for a Walker Cup invite. With starts in both summer Opens and a strong match-play resume, Wu is considered by many to be a lock for U.S. captain Nathaniel Crosby’s 10-man team, which will compete at Royal Liverpool in September.
“It’s an incredible honor to represent your country and the Walker Cup is definitely the pinnacle of that in amateur golf,” Wu said. “I’m a little superstitious in this regard, but I’m going to just try and keep playing well to add to my resume. More good golf won’t hurt.”
HIGHSMITH TOPS TEAMMATES TO WIN AT SAHALEE
The Sahalee Players turned into the Pepperdine Invitational as four Waves players finished in the top 12, including champion Joe Highsmith.
Highsmith, a rising sophomore from Lakewood, Wash., shot 7 under over four rounds to clip teammate Sahith Theegala by two shots. Theegala, a senior who redshirted last season while recovering from left-wrist surgery in January, was six shots clear of third-place Chris Crisologo.
Sophomore Derek Hitchner, who rounded out Wednesday’s final threesome at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash., tied for sixth. Senior Joshua McCarthy was T-12.
Theegala had pulled even with Highsmith after six holes, but a two-shot swing at the par-5 11th hole put Highsmith up for good, by four shots, before the two eventually ended up with matching 2-over 74s in the final round.
“I had a hot putter going all week,” Highsmith said. “Typically, my game is the opposite. I’ll hit the ball really well, but then do nothing on the greens. But this week was really average ball-striking, and fortunately had the putter going well. I made a bunch of 5- to 10-foot par saves, which was the difference.”
The victory marks Highsmith’s first world-ranked amateur title since the 2017 Washington State Amateur. Highsmith entered the week at No. 168 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Theegala was No. 68 and should move into the periphery of the U.S. Walker Cup conversation.
EAST WINS WYNDHAM CUP
The singles session of the Wyndham Cup, the AJGA’s annual Ryder Cup-style competition, was split on Wednesday, but that was enough for the East team to notch a five-point victory over the opposing West side.
Vanderbilt commit Jackson Van Paris earned the clinching point in a 27.5-22.5 win at Old Town Club in Winston-Salem, N.C., as Van Paris beat Alex Yang, 4 and 3.
“We had a lead for almost the entire time, coming down the stretch we knew we needed to play well today even though we had a five-point lead,” Van Paris said. “It was crazy. I made the putt and I heard someone yell East wins. It was really cool not knowing and then making that putt. Walking down the 16 fairway and having the shuttle cart and we all ran and started hugging each other was probably the coolest moment of my golf career. It means everything.”
The West was led by Luci Li, who went 4-0 after winning all six of her matches during her Polo Golf Junior Classic win last month. East’s Maxwell Moldovan, who won the boys title at Polo, went 3-0-1 at the Wyndham Cup to push his recent match-play record to 9-0-1.
WALKER CUP WATCH
If the Walker Cup squads were selected today, solely based on WAGR, here’s what they would look like (Note: Ireland’s James Sugrue is ranked No. 72 but likely will make the GB&I team as the British Amateur champion):
- Euan Walker (10)
- Conor Purcell (16)
- Caolan Rafferty (24)
- Ben Schmidt (28)
- Tom Sloman (32)
- Ben Jones (37)
- Joe Pagdin (50)
- Sandy Scott (51)
- Alex Fitzpatrick (53)
- Conor Gough (57)
- Cole Hammer (1)
- Akshay Bhatia (4)
- Brandon Wu (6)
- Chandler Phillips (7)
- Stewart Hagestad (8)
- Steven Fisk (9)
- Isaiah Salinda (12)
- Alex Smalley (13)
- John Pak (17)
- Ricky Castillo (19)